Friday, September 17, 2004

Rap is to Music... Etch-A-Sketch is to Art (Quote attributed to Anonymous)

Needless to say I am not a fan of that genre of noise known for it's glorious promotion of the "thug life", which includes the true pursuit of cash, drugs, sex, violence and tight rides. For the most part that doesn't bother me, however, except when one of the homies pulls up beside me with his volume ramped to the max. Then I'll try to drown him out with my Smooth Jazz or Classic R&B or Contemporary Christian. Usually it's a losing battle, though.

No, what really bugs me is rappers-turned-actors. Now, I know that Hollywood has historically sought singers to act in movies, mostly because they bring with them a smitten following. Guys like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra (who was actually a pretty decent actor), even the Beatles, automatically sold tickets regardless of the product on screen. So what is it about rap/actors that grates my sensibilities like a stuttering auctioneer? Is it the names? Like Ice-T, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Method Man, Mos Def, LL Cool J, DMX, Snoop Dogg? Ice CubeOr could it be that these guys just can't act?

It seemed for a time Hollywood was loathe to release any movie without Ice-T or Ice Cube Ice-Tgracing the screen with their scowling, stilted performances.

Before I begin painting with too broad a brush, let me acknowledge a couple of exceptions that validate the rule; Will Smith is a credible performer (with a real name) and Queen Latifah has the potential to grow in the field.

Not surprisingly, a few trained actors have taken exception to the proliferation of rappers on the silver screen. Samuel L. Jackson was quoted on a TV interview program expressing his chagrin:

"It seems that if you're a hip-hop artist and you're a rapper and you have a following, you are more likely to get a movie role than you are if you graduated from Juilliard, or NYU or the Actors Studio," Jackson remarked.

That's a sad commentary and an accurate reflection of the pitiful state of American cinema. Of course, from Hollywood's perspective, it's all about the Benjamins and as long as fans continue to line up to see their favorite rapper in the latest drama, action flick or comedy, Ice-T and Ice Cube will be able to stay in the bling-bling.

Okay, that's a rap.


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